As I sit here and write this review for C.H.R.I.S.’s new album Welcome To The Truth, I can’t help but go down memory lane and mention his first album Transparent, which was also reviewed on this same site — when it used to be called DaSouth! It was actually one of the first few albums that was selected for review when DaSouth relaunched in 2009 under Zee and Tre-9.
Fast forward, seven years later, and C.H.R.I.S. (which stands for Christ has risen inside me) has returned ready to lay his heart out! If there’s anything I took away from his last album, even with the review of it, was that transparency has consistently been his strongest point as a rapper. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the album to follow Transparent is titled Welcome To The Truth. If you’re familiar with NY CHH, you know that he has been through a tremendous amount of transition and tribulation since he released Transparent; from switching church homes, to coming to grips with the contradictions within the Church in general, the loss of loved ones, and dealing with his own life in the sight of the Father. The product of these things combined with the grace and faithfulness of God has brought Chris to a place where his faith is stronger, his intimacy with God deeper, and his engagement with those around him even realer than before.
The album’s title track after the intro summarizes his intentions, which I believe can be summarized in one simple statement that says, “I refuse to spread lies and deception from the street or the church, and I’ll spread the truth with everything that is in me!”
I’d be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention that the intro on this album is FIRE. It was filled with bars, yet didn’t feel like it was extra, or meant to show off. It was an authentic display of New York lyricism. The borough of Queens was represented well by Chris.
Speaking of representation, NY had a heavy presence overall on this album! Rap features included battle rapper Th3 Saga, GrowTheHeckUp.com owner Lavoisier, and God Over Money’s Selah The Corner. The singers who were featured are Naomi Raine, Kadeem Nichols, and Jay Cabassa. Much love was shown towards NYC.
This love includes his heart for the streets of NYC that has been so affected by gun violence as detailed in “My City,” which featured Datin, Selah, and Lavoisier. While crime has gone down in New York, gun violence was actually on the rise. Chris has personally felt the effects of the violence, seeing the loss of life affect those he’s even tried to reach. So you feel it bleed through. Featuring Datin, Lavoisier, and Selah was a perfect and needed fit. Also; hearing Lavoisier on this track further fuels my desire to see him come out with a project in the future, but with his involvement with Grow The Heck Up and other things, we shall see.
One final song I want to point out is “Missing You,” which features Kadeem Nichols perfectly on the hook. It’s a heavy song detailing the loss of family members, which I mentioned earlier was covered on this album. No matter who you are, when you experience the loss of someone close to you, it’s incredibly difficult to deal with. Check out some of the lyrics below:
He muttered out his mouth that my cousin had took a trip/with her son, little brother, a friend, and her little sis/when one of the tires blew and she lost control of the whip/everybody’s hurt bad but they probably ‘gon make it./There was a pause, then he said Rose gone/homie I flipped!/Immediately, my heart broken, shattered to bits/there’s things about God that I’ll never understand/I call this one of the questions, but it’s still part of the plan
As I listened to that, I can feel the depth of pain in those words! The tension of knowing the Lord is faithful and near, yet having people snatched away without preparation or warning, is something that can literally push you to your limits. The truth of the matter is that death is ever present, and for me to even write that is a scary thing, but this is why the life of Christ is so precious! Things shouldn’t be the way that they are right now, yet we know of the hope that anchors our soul in Him. It doesn’t make the struggle in our understanding magically disappear, but it gives our perspective the confidence and assurance needed in our lives.
The outpour of truth and honesty from this album was helped along greatly by stellar production. Known CHH producers like Tone Jonez, Daniel Steele, Geeda were chosen and delivered! There were unknown producers to me that greatly contributed as well; they include Laquan Green, L & X Music, FeedMeSTK, and Dee Black.
Some would think that an artist who took such a long absence musically would be beyond coming back with a fresh project, yet Chris has answered with a resounding yes! So don’t miss out on this, your invitation to the truth is welcomed.